By Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor, DemandGen Report
Facebook's IPO filing, announced last week, will raise at least $5 billion and could value the company at more than $75 billion. It's an astonishing amount of money, reflecting Facebook's rapid growth and immense user base – as well as the site's growing clout as an advertising and marketing platform.
For many B2B marketers, however, Facebook remains an enigma. There's a consensus that companies need to establish a Facebook presence, but very little agreement on how or even why to engage with users. According to a Penton Marketing Services study, for example, 90% of B2B companies with a social media presence "actively participate" on Facebook, yet just 47% are satisfied with their social media strategy.
So while B2C marketers have embraced Facebook as a powerful brand-building tool, their B2B counterparts are still trying to find the right formula for success.
Solving the Facebook B2B Puzzle
"A lot of B2B marketers are puzzled by Facebook," said Jason Miller, Program Manager for Social Media and Content at Marketo. "They don't see a lot of good examples to emulate yet, and getting into a [user's] newsfeed without paying for advertising is still really hard to do."
Part of the problem, according to Joe Chernov, VP of content marketing at Eloqua, is the fact that Facebook can be a tough nut to crack for B2B marketers seeking engagement with a specific audience segment. "This may sound strange given Facebook's past struggles with privacy, but B2B versus B2C are lines we draw, not lines [Facebook executives] draw," Chernov said. "They will evolve their advertising offerings in a way that adds value and connectivity to the member community, and if those models work for B2B marketers, all the better. But I see no evidence that they are planning to tailor an offering for B2B marketers specifically."
Even when B2B marketers engage with Facebook users, industry experts say they must reckon with a different approach to building and maintaining these relationships. "Most [Facebook users] joined and currently participate using what I'll call a 'home' persona, rather than a professional persona," said Trip Kucera, Senior Analyst for the Aberdeen Group. "My guess is that there will be a gradual transition to use of Facebook for professional connections, and I frankly don't see it as a big priority for Facebook given the consumer marketing opportunity in front of them."
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